2015 was uncommonly busy for the Buonanotte restaurant group. There was the extant discord between the supper club and Montreal police, for starters. (Buonanotte will go on a 40-day hiatus on January 26 to help settle the dispute.) That aside, however, the restaurant group was busy with new projects, such as Porchetta, Jellyfish, and, as of last week, the much anticipated Fiorellino.
The new café, snack bar, and restaurant inside Le U—phase three of the Unity development, behind Saint Patrick's Basilica—could well be a boon for residents of the Quartier International. Buonanotte's Massimo Lecas wants to foster a lively space for the somewhat deprived lower downtown quarter, for breakfast (think Marzocco-made espresso, and homemade bombolone, cornetto, or focaccia at the coffee bar, as of 6:30 a.m.), lunch, and dinner. "The space is brand new, and sort of a hybrid. We have the café, snack bar, aperitivo element, and then there's the dining room." This is how Lecas described the project a year ago, for a preview of Montreal's most anticipated restaurants.
Fiorellino translates as "little flower"; a nod, says Lecas, to the lullaby "Buonanotte Fiorellino" (which, incidentally, is also where the Main supper club got its name). Erik Mandracchia (Le Bremner, Impasto) is in as chef. The restaurant will feature a wood-burning oven for pizzas but, take note, will not be a pizzeria (Lecas is quick to point this out). On the beverage side, look for more of a cocktail emphasis. Bottom line: a concession to the times and "what Buonanotte would have looked like if we had opened it today instead of 23 years ago."
Fiorellino's menu will expand too, hinted Lecas, who has been encouraged by the number of repeat customers from the neighbourhood over the restaurant's first week. Look for the kitchen, then, to build on a medley of antipasti, salumi, wood-fired pizzas, and pastas (see photos below). Fiorellino is now open, albeit in holiday mode—the restaurant's hours will revert to normal a week from today.
Status: Fiorellino, 470 de la Gauchetière Ouest, (514) 878-3666, now open.